Structure and thermotropic phase behavior of fluorinated phospholipid bilayers: a combined attenuated total reflection FTIR spectroscopy and imaging ellipsometry study

J Phys Chem B. 2008 Jul 17;112(28):8250-6. doi: 10.1021/jp800711j. Epub 2008 Jun 19.


Lipid bilayers consisting of lipids with terminally perfluoroalkylated chains have remarkable properties. They exhibit increased stability and phase-separated nanoscale patterns in mixtures with nonfluorinated lipids. In order to understand the bilayer properties that are responsible for this behavior, we have analyzed the structure of solid-supported bilayers composed of 1,2-dipalmitoyl- sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) and of a DPPC analogue with 6 terminal perfluorinated methylene units (F6-DPPC). Polarized attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy indicates that for F6-DPPC, the tilt of the lipid acyl chains to the bilayer normal is increased to 39 degrees as compared to 21 degrees for native DPPC, for both lipids in the gel phase. This substantial increase of the tilt angle is responsible for a decrease of the bilayer thickness from 5.4 nm for DPPC to 4.5 nm for F6-DPPC, as revealed by temperature-controlled imaging ellipsometry on microstructured lipid bilayers and solution atomic force microscopy. During the main phase transition from the gel to the fluid phase, both the relative bilayer thickness change and the relative area change are substantially smaller for F6-DPPC than for DPPC. In light of these structural and thermotropic data, we propose a model in which the higher acyl-chain tilt angle in F6-DPPC is the result of a conformational rearrangement to minimize unfavorable fluorocarbon-hydrocarbon interactions in the center of the bilayer due to chain staggering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 1,2-Dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine / chemistry*
  • Fluorine Compounds / chemistry*
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Molecular Structure
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Temperature*


  • Fluorine Compounds
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • 1,2-Dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine